Montgomery County Juvenile Court judges have less than 10 minutes per child to review information from many parties and make potentially life-changing decisions. They must have efficient, comprehensive data flow.
The court uses the IBM Watson Care Manager solution to synthesize information from multiple parties in real time and provide it to judges in a straightforward dashboard format.
Helps staff membersincrease speed with which they can provide judges with pertinent, up-to-date information
Helps improve qualityof information available to judges while on the bench
Supports better decisionswith a growing set of historical precedents
Business challenge story
Inefficient information flow
Judge Anthony Capizzi has served the Montgomery County Juvenile Court for more than 13 years. Among his many duties is overseeing the juvenile treatment court, a weekly specialty court session that seeks to aid juveniles who are addicted to drugs. Though the docket has included as many as 120 juveniles, Capizzi prefers to keep 80 – 90 total juveniles in the program because it allows him enough time with each individual to maximize impact.
Specialty courts such as Capizzi’s differ from traditional courts, where judges and juries determine guilt and mete out punishment. Specialty courts focus on a particular population and provide court-supervised probation and rehabilitation services for that population. Explains Capizzi: “A very large part of my court focuses on children who are in my court by no fault of their own. They have been abused or neglected or become dependent on drugs because of family issues.”
Overseeing the treatment and rehabilitation of these children is complicated. “I get information from probation officers, educators, behavioral health experts and physical health experts,” says Capizzi. “I also need information regarding a child’s employment, family history, mental history and drug test results. The reality is that I get, and need, a lot of information.”
Gathering all of the requisite information can be difficult, notes Capizzi, particularly because things change quickly. “It’s realistic to say that for 50 percent of my cases, something happens between Tuesday afternoon, when the clerks put together files for me, and Thursday morning when court begins. I only have 6 – 10 minutes per case, and we might waste four of those minutes discussing a recent update.”
A real-time dashboard
Fortunately for the youth who attend Capizzi’s juvenile treatment court, the judge also serves on several national organizations and industry groups. These groups give him the opportunity to interact with like-minded individuals who are interested in using technology to advance the delivery of human services and improve the lives of children and families everywhere.
At one such meeting, Capizzi learned about a program in which a team was using the IBM Watson Care Manager platform to help facilitate planning of foster care placement possibilities for children. “I wanted to learn more about Watson to see if we could use the same principles in my juvenile treatment court,” he explains.
After several meetings with the IBM team, says Capizzi, “We determined that my court could be a good design partner for the Watson Health group, and we began designing a program that we hope will work for specialty courts all over the country.”
Capizzi describes the engagement: “We spent about eight months designing, redesigning and modifying the dashboard, which is the first screen a judge sees on the bench, or anywhere, really. The dashboard we’ve created highlights what I think are the key items I need to see. [Watson Care Manager] synthesizes all of the information I need and tells me everything in real time.”
For now, the new dashboard is limited to Capizzi’s juvenile treatment court, but the judge hopes to expand the program soon. “We’re still in the design phase, configuring Watson Care Manager to make it as good as it can be in my treatment court, and then we hope to start using it in my family and mental health courts, preferably within the next year,” he explains.
One aspect that Capizzi and the IBM team are working on is allowing interested parties in the court to input information into the system. “Right now,” he says, “most of the information is being sent to the probation officers [POs], who input it into Watson Care Manager themselves.”
“My vision,” he continues, “not only has drug treatment people and other interested parties putting information directly into the system. It also makes it possible for them to access more of the information that’s pertinent to them as they work with the children.”
Faster, deeper understandingCapizzi has been using the new Watson Care Manager solution in his court for several months, and he is extremely pleased with how much more quickly he can learn about each child he sees from the bench. “I can just look at my screen and see all of the most recent and important things about each child. I’m not digging through records or listening to updates from POs. It gives me more time to spend with the children and families I’m serving.”
Although Capizzi doesn’t anticipate serving additional children daily as a result of the more efficient flow of information, he believes the Watson Care Manager solution can help children recover from their addictions more quickly. “In the long run,” he explains, “I may treat more kids, and that’s good. But the major focus has to be on making sure I’m doing the best job I can for these families.”
He also believes that the Watson Care Manager software is already improving his understanding of the children in his court. “Say for an individual child,” he elaborates, “I want to know their most recent drug usage. Watson Care Manager is going to show me the results of the child’s last five tests. If I want to dig deeper into that particular issue, I can click and see all of the child’s drug tests since Day 1. That helps me understand the bigger picture, so I’m better able to help these kids.”
As Capizzi continues using the Watson Care Manager system, he anticipates it becoming even more helpful. First, he says, it will make it easy to refer back to past actions he took with a particular child. “I can’t remember what I did five months ago and whether or not the recommendation I made then helped treat that child.” As the new system matures, Capizzi can refer back to past actions and their results, using that information to make new decisions.
Eventually, Capizzi and his team expect the new solution to automate some low-impact analysis and correlations. The solution will be able to analyze scenarios based on location, persona demographics and availability of treatment and provide probabilities corresponding to the most appropriate matches for the individual.
Though the ultimate decision resides with the Judge, Capizzi anticipates that having recommendations backed by analytical data and evidence-based practices will help change the way he runs his specialty court. The changes, he believes, are key to the future success of the judicial system. “We have to become more progressive on how we deal with technology in the courtroom,” he explains. “Watson is a prime example of how technology can help court systems do a better job for the community and citizens that they serve.”
About Montgomery County Juvenile Court
Located in Dayton, Ohio, the Juvenile Court is a division of the Montgomery County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas. In addition to two judges and nine magistrates, the court employs bailiffs, court reporters, judicial technicians and a large administrative staff. The court also oversees a probation services department that supervises more than 750 youth each year.
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